SCULPTURE

SCULPTURE | IELTS Academic Reading Sample Question

The passage contains the following question types from IELTS Reading Question Types:

  • Short-answer questions
  • Summary Completion
  • Identifying information

SCULPTURE

You should spend about 20 minutes on Questions 1-14, which are based on Reading Passage below.

A. Sculpture, the practice of creating a three-dimensional object for artistic and aesthetic purposes, dates back as far as prehistoric times. Since objects created are intended to be enduring, traditionally sculptures have been forged from durable materials such as bronze, stone, marble and jade; however, some branches of the art also specialise in creating figurines of a more ephemeral nature, ice sculpture, for example. The practice of sculpting in many countries has traditionally been associated with religious philosophy; for example, in Asia many famous sculptures are related to Hinduism or Buddhism.

B. In Africa, perhaps more than any other region in the world, three-dimensional artwork is favoured and given more emphasis than two dimensional paintings. Whilst some experts hold that the art of sculpture in the continent dates back to the Nokcivilisation of Nigeria in 500 BC, this is disputed due to evidence of the art’s existence in Pharaonic Africa.

C. To the expert eye, African art is clearly defined by the region from which it is from and easily identifiable from the differences in technique used and material from which it is made. Figurines from the West African region are sculpted in two distinctly different forms. The first is characterised by angular forms and features with elongated bodies, such sculptures being traditionally used in religious rituals. Conversely, the traditional wood statues of the Mande speaking culture possess cylindrical arms and legs with broad, flat surfaces. Metal sculptures which hail from the eastern regions of West Africa, are heralded by many as amongst the most superior art forms ever crafted.

D. Central African sculpture may be a little more difficult to identify for the novice observer as a wider variety of materials may be used, ranging from wood to ivory, stone or metal. However, despite tills, the distinct style of usage of smooth lines and circular forms still helps to define the origin of such works. In both Eastern and Southern Africa, typically, art depicts a mixture of human and animal features. Art from the former region Is usually created in the form of a pole carved in human shape and topped with a human or animal image which has a strong connection with death, burial and the spiritual world. Such creations are less recognised as art in the traditional sense than those from other parts of Africa. In Southern Africa, the human/animal hybrid representations are fashioned from clay, the oldest known examples dating back to from between 400 and 600 A.D.

E. Although these distinct and defining regional differences in artistic expression exist, there are also universal similarities which define African art as a whole. Primarily a common characteristic is that focus is predominantly on representation of the human form. A second common trait of African art is that it is often inspired by a ceremonial or performance-related purpose; the meaning behind the art and its purpose often intended to be interpreted in a different way depending on an individual’s age, gender or even social and educational status.

F. Throughout the African continent, artworks tend to be more abstract in nature than intending to present a realistic and naturalistic portrayal of the subject in question. Artists such as Picasso, Van Gogh and Gauguin are said to have been influenced and inspired by African art. Its ability to stimulate emotional reaction and imagination generated a great deal of interest from western artists at the beginning of the 20th century. As a result, new European works began to emerge which were of a more abstract nature than previously conceived. More intellectually and emotionally stimulating art was born than had been seen before in a culture which had traditionally faithfully represented and depicted the true and exact form of its subjects.

G. The ‘Modernism’ movement of the 20th century embraced innovation in literature and art, its devotees wishing to move beyond realism in artistic expression. The sculptor Henry Spencer Moore, born in 1898 in Yorkshire, was one of the key players involved in introducing and developing his own particular style of modernism to the British art world. He is best known for his abstract bronze sculptures of the human form, many critics drawing parallels between the undulating landscapes and hills of his home county Yorkshire and the shapes and lines of his sculptures.

H. By the 1950s, Moore’s work was increasingly in demand and he began to secure high profile commissions including an artwork for the UNESCO building in Paris. By the end of Moore’s career, due to his popularity and the scale of the projects he undertook, the sculptor was extremely affluent; however, a huge proportion of his wealth was donated to the Henry Moore Foundation established with the aim of supporting education and promotion of the arts. The foundation is a registered charity and has continued to offer funding to a wide range of projects including grants to arts institutions and bursaries and fellowships for students and artists since Moore’s death in 1986.

Questions 1 – 4

Complete the summary
Choose ONE WORD ONLY from the passage for each answer.
Write your answers in boxes 14-17 on your answer sheet.

In Africa, sculpture is more predominant and more highly 1)______________ than canvas art, for example. In Asia, many prestigious works are connected to 2) ______________ values. Sculpture is an ancient art in which figurines are created from materials which are, in the main, 3) _____________ to ensure longevity of the art form; however, though more 4) ____________, materials such as ice are used in certain spheres.

Questions 4 – 8

Complete the table
Choose NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS from the passage for each answer.
Write your answers in boxes 4-8 on your answer sheet.

REGIONAL AFRICAN ART
Region           Style   Additional Information
Eastern Africa  Subjects similar to the 5) _____________ area of the country.Less sought-after than other styles of African art.
Southern AfricaArtwork representing human & animal form Made from 6) ________________
WesternAfricaStyle 1Sharp lines, long bodiesConventionally made for the purpose of 7) ________________
Style 2Cylindrical, broad and flat lines crafted from 8) _______________Made by Mande speakers 
Central AfricaSmooth lines & circular formsOften more difficult to recognise due to the diversity of 9)_____________used.

Questions 9 – 14

Answer the questions below using NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS from the passage for each answer.
Write your answers in boxes 23-27 on your answer sheet.

10) Verification of art in which civilisation sheds doubt on the theory that African art dates back to the Nok period?
11) What material is used for the African sculptures many consider to be the best?
12) What ceremonial event are the creations from Eastern Africa connected with?
13) Due to African influence, what did Western art become that allowed it to be more intellectually and emotionally stimulating?
14) What did Moore most often depict which brought him the greatest recognition?

ANSWER KEY FOR IELTS READING PRACTICE TEST

1) Favoured
Paragraph B: ‘In Africa, perhaps more than any other region in the world, three-dimensional artwork is favoured and given more emphasis than two dimensional paintings.’

2) Religious
Paragraph A: ‘The practice of sculpting in many countries has traditionally been associated with religious philosophy.’

3) Durable
Paragraph A: ‘traditionally sculptures have been forged from durable materials such as bronze, stone, marble and jade’

NOTE: Although ‘enduring’ has the same meaning, it is not the correct answer because in the passage this word refers to the sculptures, but the question was asking for a description of the materials used.

4) Ephemeral
Paragraph A: ‘however, some branches of the art also specialise in creating figurines of a more ephemeral nature, ice sculpture, for example.1

NOTE: Ephemeral means ‘short lived’

5) Southern
Paragraph D: ‘In both Eastern and Southern Africa, typically, art depicts a mixture of human and animal features.’

6) Clay
Paragraph D: ‘In Southern Africa, the human/animal hybrid representations are fashioned from clay.’

7) Religious rituals
Paragraph C: ‘Figurines from the West African region are sculpted in two distinctly different forms. The first is characterised by angular forms and features with elongated bodies, such sculptures being traditionally used in religious rituals.’

8) Wood
Paragraph C: ‘Conversely, the traditional wood statues of the Mande speaking culture possess cylindrical arms and legs with broad, flat surfaces.’

9) Materials
Paragraph D: ‘Central African sculpture may be a little more difficult to identify for the novice observer as a wider variety of materials may be used.’

10) Pharaonic Africa
Paragraph B: ‘Whilst some experts hold that the art of sculpture in the continent dates back to the Nokcivilisation of Nigeria in 500 BC, this is disputed due to evidence of the art’s existence in Pharaonic Africa.’

11) Metal
Paragraph C: ‘Metal sculptures which hail from the eastern regions of West Africa, are heralded by many as amongst the most superior art forms ever crafted.’

12) Burial
Paragraph D: ‘In both Eastern and Southern Africa, typically, art depicts a mixture of human and animal features. Art from the former region is usually created in the form of a pole carved in human shape and topped with a human or animal image which has a strong connection with death, burial and the spiritual world.’
NOTE: The question refers to a ceremonial event – neither death nor the reference to the spiritual world is ceremonial events. This leaves only burial.

13) Abstract
Paragraph F: ‘Throughout the African continent, artworks tend to be more abstract in nature than intending to present a realistic and naturalistic portrayal of the subject in question. Artists such as Picasso, Van Gogh and Gauguin are said to have been influenced and inspired by African art. Its ability to stimulate emotional reaction and imagination generated a great deal of interest from western artists at the beginning of the 20th century. As a result, new European works began to emerge which were of a more abstract nature than previously conceived.’

14) the human form
Paragraph G: ‘Henry Spencer Moore…is best known for his abstract bronze sculptures of the human form.’

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